I recently had the chance to watch a groundbreaking short that is the true definition of horror. Wanjiru Njenduis‘ BOXED is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I’m proud to review something that gives us an insight into Black History and what one man did for freedom.
Wanjiru Njenduis produced, wrote, and directed BOXED, which is a fictionalized short film based on the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom in 1849.
It is shot as a psychological thriller and in doing so, captured the true terror and fear that Henry must have felt. Cinematographer Bongani Mlambo did a phenomenal job with close-up angles, giving us a claustrophobic look and feel of what Henry was going through and how maddening it must have been. One of the hardest parts for me to watch, but also the most memorable, was when Henry can hear a woman being harassed but he can’t do anything about it without risking his own life. It is heartbreakingly cruel.
Henry is played by Adetokumboh M’Cormack who is absolutely brilliant. He never says a word but he doesn’t need to. His gestures and expression say everything we need to know: Fear, anger, and hope. Fear that he will be found. Anger that he must be confined in this crate for a chance of freedom. Hope for a new tomorrow.
The sound design and mix were done by John Cantú who was the brilliant trailer editor behind Get Out and Us. The sound helps set the mood and tone for the film. It successfully causes high tension and stress, as you beg that he won’t be found. But then at the end, the soft and gentle tones resonate hope and it’s then that you know he’s going to be okay.
BOXED has had a great festival run – over 50 festivals thus far. I’ve watched probably over 100 shorts this year and this is by far one of the best ones I’ve seen. Everything about it is remarkable and well-done. It’s important and makes you feel a range of different emotions. I hope it continues to receive praise and awards.